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B.C. people with Down syndrome face vaccination discrimination: human rights complaint

A nurse assistant prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 during a priority vaccination program for health workers at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Founders of 'Ready For My Shot' say people with Down Syndrome, other developmental disabilities should have priority

Group says people with developmental disabilities are 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. is discriminating against people with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities by denying them COVID-19 vaccine priority, according to a group that has filed a human rights complaint against the province.

The founders of Ready For My Shot say people with developmental disabilities are 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19, but many are still waiting for their shots in B.C.

They note the province has given priority to people who work in some non-essential industries such as ski resorts.

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“The Human Rights Code requires the government to accommodate for disability. It must take into account the increased risk that people living with Down syndrome face from COVID-19 every day. Instead, BC is vaccinating workers in non-essential industries ahead of those citizens most in need,” said Mike Waddingham, co-founder of the group.

Earlier this month, Waddingham told us about how his 17-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, has faced extreme isolation due to the pandemic.

“Down syndrome has a host of medical conditions that come with it — it’s not just an intellectual disability — one of them is a tendency to have upper respiratory issues. He’s been hospitalized twice with pneumonia,” Waddingham said at the time.

“The office of the PHO … regularly meets with organizations representing people with disabilities including developmental disabilities and are very aware and very focused on the particular challenges faced by these groups,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said on March 2.

Dix said people with disabilities who live in group homes would have access in Phase 2, while “adults with very significant developmental disabilities that increase risk to COVID-19 are prioritized in Phase 3 of the plan under the category ‘People aged 69-16 who are clinically vulnerable’ and will be immunized at the same time as ‘People who are 74-70 years old.”

Ready For My Shot says its lobbying pushed the government to make changes this week but they are not completely inclusive and place an “undue burden of proof” for eligibility on some people.

-With files from Ash Kelly